RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

Collating article reviews and annotated bibliographies of academic peer publications, industry reports and critical research supporting further study and the blog articles

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

Collating article reviews and annotated bibliographies of academic peer publications, industry reports and critical research supporting further study and the blog articles

04/10/2016
Kirsty Porter

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Written by Kirsty Porter  • 3 October 2016 •

Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast.

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe symptoms of a degenerative brain disease. Dementia is to Alzheimer’s what fruit is to an apple or what shortness of breath is to Asthma.

 

Dementia is a disease symptom and while it more commonly affects the older adult it is NOT a natural part of ageing. 

 

Alzheimer’s is the most common of all the dementias and affects up to 70% of people diagnosed.  Dementia with Lewy Bodies is another form of dementia but it is widely regarded as the most under-diagnosed dementia, as was the case with actor Robin Williams.  

 

Dementia describes the symptoms of all degenerative brain diseases. Its symptoms can be as varied and as wide-ranging as our own personalities but generally dementia is characterised by changes in; behaviour, memory, orientation, movement, mood or ability to make decisions.

 

Finding out the cause of dementia symptoms requires a combination of specialist doctors to crawl into the nether regions of the brain to establish which part of the brain is affected to determine the correct diagnosis. For more on how a diagnosis is formed check out this guide.

 

This brain sojourn takes time. But, once the specialist doctor discovers where the dementia is occurring, how it’s progressing and even why, action can be taken and in some cases, specialists can even reverse the problem.  For example, certain conditions such as depression or an under-active thyroid can be the cause of dementia symptoms, and therefore it’s important to establish early on what type of dementia is presenting in the brain.

 

And then there are the ‘true’ dementias

 

I would love to add a, “dementia-can-be-reversed-if-you-get-help-early” heading, but sadly, in this day and age, it’s not the case.

 

‘True’ dementias describe irreversible and progressive degenerative areas of the brain that are presently incurable and are terminal.   Further, there are no cures or medication that can stop the degeneration or progression of any of the ’true’ dementias.  

 

Degenerative true dementias, such as the more common ones; Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Bodies or Parkinson’s Disease, are all hallmarked by their own set of pathological changes in different areas and different cells of the brain.  

 

As these pathological changes become more progressive, the brain begins to atrophy or shrink. Naturally, brain atrophy will affect physiological behaviours such as speech, movement, memory and perception.  Importantly, with a prognosis anywhere between a 6 months (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or “mad-cow” disease) and 20 years (Alzheimer’s), getting the correct diagnosis will kick-start appropriate support, expectations and choices.

 

Today, there are over 130 different types of dementia recorded. With these kinds of numbers, it is important to get the correct diagnosis so that the plan of care and action is appropriate to the disease trajectory.  

 

While diagnosis is important to establish disease trajectory, it is also vital that a great deal of support from health care professionals, the community associations, family and friends become a fundamental response at this point. Sadly, it is also at this point, stigma  and ignorance becomes as real as the fear and emotional devastation a dementia diagnosis can bring.

 

This week, while setting up my own dementia café (The Umbrella Dementia Café and on Facebook), I’ve heard different perspectives of ‘what is dementia’, and why some people get Alzheimer’s in families and others don’t. I’d be interested in hearing what you’ve heard about dementia or Alzheimer’s? Why do some people get it early and others later in life?

 

Brian Kursonis, from North Carolina in the US, did not count on having Alzheimer’s at 54 at all! On the issue of stigma and ignorance he says,

“I have to tell you though, for me the stigma or the ‘uncomfortable part’ isn’t just admitting I have dementia to people but doing it so openly that they sometimes feel uncomfortable. I love it though when I can educate them.  I knew so little about dementia a year ago”.

 

I agree with Brian; education and awareness is the key to fight against stigma and ignorance. Brian is a perfect example of living well with dementia – actually, scratch that, he’s kicking arse in his life and determined to live his best self (see his post here before his 2016 Walk Against Alzheimer’s last month). He knows very well the trajectory of his disease but is living by his rules despite how it makes others people feel. You are an inspiration Brian, thank you.

 

I want to finish this post, with a 2-minute cartoon video, produced by Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, to truly clarify the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Finally, love is not lost during any of the degenerative stages of dementia. x

 

Written By Kirsty Porter

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER

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Feature Photos: Pixabay.com & adapted by Kirsty Porter.
NO ROYALTIES WERE RECEIVED FOR PUBLISHING THIS ARTICLE.
AUTHOR NOT AFFILIATED WITH COMPANIES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE

 

 

Related Article and Web Page by Kirsty Porter

 

ARTICLE: Gene Wilder, STIGMA and A Child’s Smile

WEB PAGE: The Umbrella Dementia Cafe project

FACEBOOK: The Umbrella Dementia Cafe inaugural event in Melbourne

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14/08/2016
Kirsty Porter

Why Cognitive Preservation in Aged Care is Essential for Organisational Agility

Why Cognitive Preservation in Aged Care is ESSENTIAL for Organisational Agility?

Written by Kirsty Porter | 14 August 2016
• Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast •

The rules for the aged care sector are changing.  Government funding models are more and more politically and fiscally motivated, and aged care organisations are constantly finding themselves riding the wave of uncertainty and change.

 

This is exhausting for some aged care organisation, and detrimental to others as organisation policy makers try to balance cost and business efficiencies.

So, in the interest of assisting with policy development to make your organisation more agile, I have created this post to reflect on three things;

• Why remodelling your aged care model to include cognitive preservation strategies will increase organisational agility.
• What five principles establishes cognitive preservation.
• How can these translate in an aged care environment.

 

What does organisational agility mean for an aged care service?

 

It’s about remaining competitive even when your dynamic external environment is disrupted, such as funding streams.  Organisations who embrace change and are flexible to the disruptions in their environment are considered agile, and in turn excel in their fields. 

 

Often, when policies are written for aged care environments, we draw from government strategies, regulatory guidelines and whitepapers to help create the best quality services and policies for our ageing residents or clients.

 

Of course these governing strategies and regulations propose the highest quality of aged care, but in the market place it creates a vortex of similarities between one organisation and another; making it more challenging for the customers to differentiate which aged care service is best or right for them. As a result, organisational agility becomes almost impossible to achieve.

choosing aged care
Adapted by Kirsty Porter. Sourced: Pixabay

However, there is one transformational concept that is challenging the way brain health policies in aged care facilities are modelling and implemented. It’s called the Cognitive Footprint concept (read more), and it’s weighted heavily towards preserving cognitive health and function, and delay the onset of cognitive decline, especially in people exhibiting early signs of dementia symptoms.

 

Until there is a cure, worldwide experts of Alzheimer’s disease, such as the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) and World Innovation Summit for Health (W.I.S.H), recommend health care organisations implement proven cognitive preservation strategies in an effort to reduce the incidence of the global dementia epidemic.

 

Cognitive impairment, like what we see in Alzheimer’s disease, can be delayed if cognitive preservation strategies are implemented (Ngandu, et al, 2015). This is especially important when modelling your aged care service for funding efficiencies, particularly when considering costs associated to achieving good behaviour management outcomes; important for all dementia care models.  

 

Recognised cognitive preservation principles include;

 

• Intensive and frequent physical activity (to modify hypertension, inactivity and sarcopenia)
• Good nutrition (to modify diabetes and obesity),
• Education and learning (creating new neutron pathways),
• Frequent and consistent social interaction, and
• Mental health awareness (to modify depression).

(W.H.O 2012, W.I.S.H 2015, Rossor & Knapp 2015)

Rosser and Knapp (2015) refer to these cognitive preservation principles as key to defining your Cognitive Footprint and how we model dementia globally.   Read more about the Cognitive Footprint Model here .

While very few countries are enacting these principles into their national aged care strategy, those aged care organisations who are already proactive in implementing them are naturally becoming agile and marginally unaffected by the changing dynamics in their external environment, such as; government funding reallocation policies and the increasing demands of an ageing population.  (Read here about an aged care facility actively excelling in this).

 

Translating cognitive preservation research into a woking program

 

The aged care-funding environment is based on outcomes of quality business efficiencies; therefore organisations must incorporate assistive technology and progressive concepts to remain in the game. And certainly, this next wave of elders, such as the boom generation, is significantly more tech savvy and environmentally aware.  

 

The Society of Saint Hilarion Inc. Aged Care, in Australia has already incorporated these recommendations by W. H. O. and W.I.S.H; and their results are stunning.  Their Wellness Centre Program, incorporates new assistive technology and progressive program innovation, that has not only generated national recognition and industry awards, but is now considered a blueprint for other care provides. Their cognitive strategies include;

 

• A Wellness Centre accessed by residents, staff, families and the community;
• Older aged specific interactive gym technology with dedicated allied health professionals;
• On-site resident managed and maintained vegetable and herb gardens;
• Organic home-grown produce incorporated into meal menus;
• Psychology and wellness programs for residents, staff, and all their families.

winning active ageing wellness
Source Pixabay.com & adapted by Kirsty Porter

 

Exhaustive enough? Expensive even? Read my article about The Society of Saint Hilarion Inc. and how their proactivity for cognitive health propelled them towards a more self-sufficient business model, and thus introduced extraordinary organisational agility. 

 

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER

 

Written By Kirsty Porter
Who is Kirsty Porter and Why has she created The Age of Senescence?

Feature Photo: Pixabay.com & adapted by Kirsty Porter

OPINIONS ARE MY OWN


I love hearing about new aged care innovation, send me a message and tell me about it so I can follow your journey.

 

Please comment below – 

Has this article created conversation within your aged care service?  

How has incorporating cognitive preservation principles given your organisation a competitive edge?

RELATED ARTICLES 

  1. The Cognitive Footprint Model
  2. A Winning Active Ageing Approach
  3. Gene Wilder, STIGMA & A Child’s Smile
  4. What is the difference between dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease? 

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AgeFit Solutions are leaders in exercise physiology for older adults.

They help aged care providers re-modeling and innovate wellness options for their clients or staff.

 They have  A LOT of experience in transforming aged care
environments for cognitive health options!

 

I’ve prepared a fun video giving you a little more information.
Click the photo to get the video.

14/08/2016
Kirsty Porter

A Winning Active Ageing Approach

A Winning Active Ageing Approach

Written by Kirsty Porter  • 15 August 2016 •

Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast 

Over the past 12 months, you may have seen increased media exposure about how improving physical health and incorporating winning healthy active ageing principles can improve cognitive function in later life. 

Not unexpected right? But what about in an aged care facility?

 

I mean Plato put it out there in the 3rd Century BC (yes, BC!) when he said

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

According to 21st Century experts at the World Health Organisation, the British Heart Foundation and Stamford University advocate inactivity in older adults is the highest contributor to the rapid challenges faced by pubic health systems globally. In fact, Kohl (2012) contributes inactivity as the 4th highest causes of death.

 

 

Many researchers all over the world (Taylor, Singh & King) are imploring policy makers to promote moderate intensity resistance exercise (for more than 150 minutes each week) to impact overall primary health care costs. Taylor goes further to say that these levels of physical activity will reduce heart disease by 50%, while Henwood (here & here) presents that an increase in physical activity later in life will significantly affect symptoms of dementia and reduce falls!

 

 

To date, only a small number of aged care providers have picked up on these resistance exercise ideas and proficiently incorporated them into their funding and business models.

 

As with any hot new innovation in the aged care sector, providers are asking, “how can we share the same success?”

 

Read on to find out which award winning aged care provider in Australia is kicking goals by investing in a modern wellness centre that is designed to preserve the cognitive health of residents, staff and, more recently, the community in which they operate. And be sure to check out the video at the end of the post.

 

 

An Award Winning Healthy Ageing Wellness Centre

 

Awarding Winning Healthy ageing service
Source: Authors own. Adapted Pixabay.com

The Society of Saint Hilarion Inc. Aged Care, is an award-winning residential aged care organisation with some serious organisational agility!  See their Facebook profile @sthilarionswellnesscentre

 

Having received awards and recognition from major Australian peak bodies, Saint Hilarion is now seen as a blueprint for cognitive preservation strategies and healthy ageing principles.

 

They achieved this status by understanding and investing in the best old-age specific gym technology on the market; not least because it is backed by A LOT of research but because it suited the needs of their residents. (Check out this technology at Helsinki University Research (HUR) website here.) But this post is about breaking the mould, not about the technology – that’s for another post.  

 

So why did they do it?

 

Instead of accepting the familiar expense that functional disability and physical inactivity was having on their business model, Saint Hilarion completely turned their business model on its head and considered how a service centred on healthy ageing concepts could improve their residents’ quality of life, as well as their bottom line. The management team collaborated, using up-to-date evidence based research, to create a novel wellness model that focuses on ‘re-ablement’ innovations and cognitive health strategies.

 

 

wellness centre, active, ageing
Source: Authors own

The result was the development of a Wellness Centre and it incorporated all five elements identified for improved cognitive function (more about these elements here).

 

Headed up by their lead healthy ageing advocate, physiotherapist Mr. Frank Naso, they completely overhauled the way they responded to aged caring and ageing choices.

 

The Wellness Centre concept sat perfectly within their existing philosophy, and inside two years their seemingly expensive risk had paid off.   They’d experienced extraordinary returns on investment with far-reaching, non-tangible benefits that will pay out for years to come.

 

Saint Hilarion Wellness Centre
Source: Authors own with permission

Recently, Frank presented the outcomes of their cognitive preservation strategies at the 2016 World Congress of Active Ageing in Melbourne, Australia.  And a collective gasp from the audience was clearly heard as he presented their staggering results!

 

Decrease In Resident Challenging Behaviours

 

He presented a 89% decrease in resident challenging behaviours; a dramatic increase in satisfaction surveys from 64% to 98%; a marked reduction in staff turnover; and further, they were enjoying sky high community volunteer levels.

 

 

And while Saint Hilarion’s results are spectacular in reducing dementia related behaviours, the organisation has also successfully extended the business model to include staff participation, their families and the local community.

wellness centre, active, ageing
Source: Authors own with permission

 

 

This has resulted in generous investment returns and continues to inspire more innovative healthy ageing opportunities, which has no doubt left a positive and lasting cognitive footprint on every resident, employee and community member that has had the pleasure of using the facilities at Saint Hilarion.

 

A Perfect Example of the Cognitive Footprint Model

 

These cognitive preservation strategies are exactly what the World Health Organisation and the 2013 G8 Dementia Summit are referring to and Saint Hilarion have framed the cognitive footprint model perfectly. Further, they have successfully responded to the needs of their changing environment and now have a significant level of organisational agility to withstand any future government policy reform. Read why cognitive preservation in aged care is essential for organisational agility.

 

 

This account of the successes achieved by The Society of Saint Hilarion has been written to help begin the conversation with your age care management team about the impacts cognitive preservation strategies can have on your organisation.

 

Good Luck and let me know how you go.  

 

Written By Kirsty Porter

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER


I love hearing about new aged care innovations,  send me a message so I can follow your journey. x

 

Please comment if this article has inspired you to promote change and share with others by clicking your favourite social media icons below.

 

Feature Photo: Pixabay.com & adapted by Kirsty Porter
NO ROYALTIES WERE RECEIVED FOR PUBLISHING THIS ARTICLE.
AUTHOR NOT AFFILIATED WITH COMPANIES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE

I’ve also written two other articles on this subject that might be helpful;

 

  1. The Cognitive Footprint Model
  2. Why cognitive preservation in aged care is ESSENTIAL for organisational agility.

Subscribe and be a part of The Age of Senescence community.

 

Receive emails about what I’m currently working on and notifications when articles are published. 

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER©

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER

 

Introducing  AgeFit Solutions  and founder Dr. Tim Henwood.

 

 

If you or your organisation need help to bring an innovative wellness option into your aged care service, then contact Tim.

 

He truly has the experience and know how to improve the lives of your clients or staff.

Click photo for video advert!

 

Dr. Tim Henwood is a leader in exercise physiology and has a great deal of experience delivering innovative wellness options for people with complex health needs, including dementia, for Australian aged care community services and residential facilities.  

 

Dr. Henwood has published over 30 articles on the long term physiological and cognitive benefits of active ageing initiatives.  He is strongly linked to the active ageing successes at Bernie Brae and also the dementia focused Watermemories Swimming Club.

 

And he’s a really nice guy.  Give him a call.

17/07/2016
Kirsty Porter

The Cognitive Footprint Model

The Cognitive Footprint Model

Written By   Kirsty Porter | 17 July 2016

• Nurse & Aged Care Enthusiast •

The Cognitive Footprint & World Congress of Active Ageing 2016

 

I began my self-imposed industry research journey at the World Congress of Active Ageing in Melbourne (hosted by ISEAL), and it certainly had a profound and overwhelming affect on me.  Admittedly, beyond learning about this incredible and progressive industry unified in healthier and active ageing principles, I also found myself reflecting on my past and current lifestyle choices that will, according to real data outcomes, absolutely impact my ageing trajectory.

 

But there was one term that resonated with me, and it was only thrown out into the audience at the WCAA by keynote speaker, Professor Nicola Lautenschlager (University of Melbourne), for professionals to consider a re-modelled concept for long term cognitive health policies and interventions in their workplace.

 

The term was Cognitive Footprint.

 

I’d never heard of a cognitive footprint, carbon yes, but cognitive no.   Yet, within this analogy, I could appreciate how events in my life might have affected the way I think?  And indeed, if the events in all our lives are as varied and complex, so too might be our thoughts and the way we participate in society.

 

Of course, cognitive or brain health is not always a choice. Your development in-vitro, pharmacological side effects, accidents, the environment you live in, education access, etc. can determine cognitive health. But nevertheless, your cognitive health impacts how you participate in living.

 

So, inspired by this cognitive footprint concept, I threw myself into further research and began to understand its real global importance.   Further, it is absolutely perfect for my very first article published here, on The Age of Senescence.

 

Where did the term ‘Cognitive Footprint’ come from?

 

IMG_9205
Tap photo for full academic article….

 

I found two chaps, professors actually, working in London, who came up with the term in an article they published in The Lancet; a popular medical journal published in the UK.

 

Co-contributors to the term ‘cognitive footprintProfessor M. Rossor, Clinical Neurologist from UCL Institute of Neurology,  and Professor M. Knapp of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, both London, UK, present a viewpoint academic paper about remodelling the way nations need to address the challenges of dementia.

 

Rosser and Knapp predict that global inequitable and expensive dementia care costs will have economic fallouts, unless policy makers start investing in their most valuable asset; their nations cognitive capital.

 

The authors argue that by asking the question, “What is your cognitive footprint?” individuals and policy makers alike are forced to analyse what is positively or negatively impacting their societal cognitive health, and as such, societal outcomes which invariably impact a nations overall economic proficiency.

 

Brain Power
Pixabay & adapted by Kirsty

 

Rossor and Knapp believe nations that are proactive in achieving a positive cognitive footprint will fair better economically than those who don’t. This means, a nation that is mentally healthier, will be more efficient.  By fostering the term ‘cognitive footprint’, the true severity of dementias can truly be appreciated and, more importantly, globally quantified.  Moreover, if the term is aligned to other prominent modern challenges (such as ‘carbon footprint’ in the climate change debate), additional weight of its importance can be appreciated and a market brand or policy model can be developed.

 

It therefore also becomes a valid measurement to compare against other global nations as they compete to retain their society’s cognitive capital, reduce the severe economic consequences of all dementias, and seek instead to become healthier and more productive as a nation.

 

Lifetime policies for cognitive health not just end-stage dementia.

 

This article is a classic account of the tail that wags the dog. The authors are concerned about governments who are centrally focused on late-stage dementias instead of the broader, and arguably bigger, societal opportunities such as lifespan cognitive health promotion.  (See my article on achieving residential aged care organisational agility here)

 

Rossor and Knapp want policy makers to consider wider and more positive cognitive health policies and implementations influencing their nations cognitive longevity, rather than see them prey to the dementia epidemic.   Further, the authors state it is not enough that governing dementia strategic plans are available at point of diagnosis, but that they should be considering the wider opportunity to invest in their nations lifespan of cognitive health, which might reduce predispositions to cognitive impairment in the first place!

 

This observation by Rossor and Knapp is reasonably profound (evidence based), as it suggests that dementia, or rather its true definition cognitive decline, is more predominate in those who are exposed to events, pharmacology or lifestyle choices that inherently create cognitive impairment.

 

Therefore the cause of cognitive impairment, or decline such as we see in dementia, won’t just be confined to elder-hood, but what results from our entire life events, that impact our cognitive shape in old age.  Henceforth, this wonderful term Cognitive Footprint is coined and defined perfectly.

 

It’s about the cognitive health efforts of a whole society.

 

brain health
Illustration: Pixabay

 

Rossor and Knapp define cognitive health as bidirectional that relies on individuals and governments as equally significant parties who endorse policies and interventions towards positive cognitive health promotion.

 

For the individual; lifetime engagement in educational investment, safe exercise, good nutrition, protective environment and healthy social behaviours are essential activities to enhancing cognitive health. And as for governments, preserving their nations full cognitive potential over a lifespan requires for instance, a participative educational culture, a responsive public health system (especially pharmacology awareness), an adaptive social care system, a just legal structure, a protective environment (i.e. safe sanitation) and a contributing and productive workforce.

 

If the term cognitive footprint does indeed carry and become a mainstream political or social slogan, it might just represent real quantifiable conversations amongst communities who truly and whole-heartedly reject the prevalence of dementias.

 

Broadly speaking, this concept can span into other areas such as obesity and debilitating chronic illnesses that might also the result of the cognitive footprint model, and thus, my imagination boggles how this term can indeed be used to measure a nations wider cognitive efficiency – from conception until death.

 

I can’t help but reflect, how has my cognitive footprint affected my life in the past, my life now, my family’s life and our lives in the future?

 

One thing is for sure; my little family is and will be healthier for having learnt this.

 

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER 

 

Written by Kirsty Porter

Founder – The Age of Senescence.com 

All photos by: Kirsty Porter & Pixabay.
Feature photo adapted from Pixabay.com.
All views are my own and not affiliated with any other organisation

What are your thoughts on this concept, THE COGNITIVE FOOTPRINT?

AND

What does a cognitive footprint model mean for you or your organisation?  

cognitive footprint model

Related Posts

  1. Why Cognitive Preservation in Aged Care is ESSENTIAL for Organisational Agility?
  2. A Winning Active Ageing Approach
  3. Gene Wilder, STIGMA & A Childs Smile
  4. What is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?
20/06/2016
Kirsty Porter

Who is The Age Of Senescence?

Who Is The Age Of Senescence?

My name is Kirsty Porter and I’ve created The Age of Senescence to share my journey to discover how different countries and cultures around the world are responding to the needs of an ageing population.

 

I am a qualified nurse in Australia and have been working in the aged care industry for most of my career, both in Australia and the UK. In recent years, I’ve seen how the ageing population in Australia is impacting the nursing profession; and more specifically in residential aged care facilities. It has become obvious to me that the continuous strive for nursing excellence is marred by the more complex needs of the ageing client and their family, as well as increasingly onerous industry regulation.

 

Why Was The Age of Senescence Created?

 

I have observed an increasing number of people admitted to residential aged care facilities with greater and more chronically advanced care needs. Family members appear more exhausted from having played the caregivers role for longer than they could cope with or recover from. Staffing morale in aged care facilities is inconsistent between organisations; often resulting in unmanageable turnover rates, and this is leading to increasing difficulties in maintaining adequate, appropriate qualified and experienced staff levels (Dr. Booker researches this at length). Even more concerning is the decreasing government funding to these facilities. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Surely with a greater demand there is opportunity for industry growth? With indelible determination to find out more, in 2014 I enrolled in a Post Graduate in Aged Services Management.

 

A Post Grad. No big deal. I just wanted to dip my toe in and see what this aged care industry was really all about. However, I came away even more concerned, frustrated and somewhat obsessive about an industry that is crying out for reform. My Post Grad is central to my new transformational ideas, but industry boundaries are prohibitive. Broadly, I want to integrate nonlinearity complex adaptive systems into an age care system that is, quite frankly, limited by sovereign decree.

 

Hang on, stay with me.

 

Plainly speaking, I had acquired ‘space-age’ ideas but had no platform to launch them from. And I was annoyed.

 

But, it was the little mathematical ratio, illustrated in my picture below that really opened my eyes up to the future of age care.

 

Retired People verses the Working Population Ratio in Australia

Photo by Kirsty Jane

 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts that by 2050, Australia’s economy will have nearly half the number of people in the workforce supporting the health and welfare of an ageing population that is twice as big as it is today. And that means we, as a society, need to think outside the box if we all want quality retirement choices and a quality end of life care.

 

I then compared Australia with other developed countries, and the results are similar.  Japan is the most concerning comparison as seen in this adaption below.

Japan working ratio

 

Our choices for retirement will be, fiscally speaking, reduced. Indeed, the ‘ageing population problem’, that has been so eloquently projected by academics and policy writers alike, suddenly became very real to me. In 2050, I’ll be in my seventies and dare I say it, an economic statistic. I despair as I watch my young children play at my feet, how our retirement life will affect them and their choices?

 

‘Space-age’ ideas anyone?

 

Knowing what I know about the aged care sector, I cannot shake the question;

 

“How are we going to care for each other in the future when, by today’s standards, the system is already over stressed?”

 

Then the most magical things started happening to me.

 

Over a period of 2 years, I received messages, web links, books, watched movies and documentaries, witnessed digital disruption, found newspaper clippings, was invited to events and listened to podcasts about people and communities all over the world who were inadvertently answering my question. There were small groups of people proactive in challenging the status quo of getting old, being dependent or living with chronic disabilities. In fact, there were people influencing whole societies to change the way they approached ‘ageing well’ principles and traditional aged care options. And what’s more, they were succeeding!

 

PEOPLE WERE DOING MORE WITH LESS!

 

For instance, a brilliant doctor in Leiden, The Netherlands started the ‘re-socialisation’ Alzheimer’s Caféphenomena; now hailing over 1,000 operating sites in Europe, UK, America, Ireland, Canada and Australia.

 

Or another example of a Canadian man who, while planning digital music to be included in his own aged care, inadvertently went on to inspire the Music and Memory project that is now widespread in nursing homes across the US, Canada and Australia.

 

And finally, a woman from Minnesota, USA who was so devastated by the experience of caring for her own mother’s dementia symptoms, went on to build the nationally renowned ‘Lakeview Ranch Model of Specialised Dementia Care’.

 

There are other smaller examples too, but certainly no less significant. A residential aged care home in Germany created a ‘front of house’ pseudo bus-stop in response to curbing residents with Alzheimer from wandering too far from the facility.

 

But more on these in future articles.

 

From all these examples and more, I have learnt just how one person’s idea can impact a whole age care industry, its productivity potential, its commercial outcomes, inspire project enterprises in neighboring countries and, most importantly, it can affect inter-generational socialisation and participation!

 

Ordinary People with Extraordinary Ideas

 

People around the world are quite literally bringing the elder generation, especially the most isolated, out of their homes and back into society. What is most alluring is that these are ordinary people, creating extraordinary ideas, and drawing inspiration from the very problems they have encountered while navigating their own cultural aged care system. Interestingly, and more often then not, these ideas have actually created enterprise and business opportunity. Certainly, this is an economic win!

Pieces of the Puzzle

And so it is here that The Age of Senescence is born.

 

What is The Age of Senescence?

 

My aim is to create a directory, of sorts, that brings all these stories of innovation, participation and productivity together; with the sole intention to encourage other communities to replicate.

 

So I have dared myself to stare down the rabbit hole, and teach myself about digital technology, website building, social media and ecommerce. Hilariously, my first Google search was: “What is a domain name?”; a low starting point indeed. And so it begins….

 

I am not an academic, a doctor or even a recognised specialist in my field. Nor am I a journalist, a representative of an organisation or a government official.  But I do however have 20 dynamic years of nursing, sales and marketing experience in both Australia and the United Kingdom, predominately in the aged care. And as I face this new self-imposed career direction with enthusiasm, my writing will undoubtedly come from the heart.  I will certainly be guided by you, the audience, while I navigate this vast space I have created for myself.

 

How Will The Age Of Senescence Work?

 

Fully enchanted by people who have had the courage to create, the grit to develop and the persistence to launch such creative ageing ideas, I’m inspired to do the same. And now, having created the medium to connect with you, I don’t just want to talk about it; I want to write about it, video it, link it to you, try to emulate it, photograph it and display it here, on The Age of Senescence, to inspire others to see how global communities and organisations are responding to the needs of their ageing population.

 

Further, through the wonders of digital technology, the genre of blogging and the fashion of social media, we can now communicate and truly connect with like minded people from our own homes.

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The Age of Senescence invites you to journey with me as I discover, share and document new responsive technology, literature, innovation and services for the ageing population.   And also, ideas about who is inspiring it and why.   But more importantly, to instill belief that you too can replicate and develop these ideas into your own ageing community.

 

I would love to hear from you, especially if you are currently in the throws of navigating your own age care system.

 

How has the competition for aged care provision affected or improved the quality, access, participation or equity of services in your community or country?

 

Thank you,

 

AGEING BETTER TOGETHER

Kirsty Porter
Nurse and Aged Care Enthusiast

MY VIEWS ARE MY OWN AND NOT AFFILIATED WITH ANY OTHER ORGANISATION
NO ROYALTIES RECEIVED OR REQUESTED
SEE TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR WEBSITE USE

 

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Ordinary people around the world are creating extraordinary ageing solutions

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